On my recent trip to Los Angeles for AR 2009, I had the privilege of meeting and sharing a meal with Kevin Boylan, one of the owners of The Veggie Grill. I was so inspired by his story, his business sense, and of course, the amazing food! The Veggie Grill has found the winning formula for healthy, delicious, inexpensive, convenient meals, something this country so desperately needs.
The Veggie Grill has served over a half million plant-based meals in 2.5 years. Over 90% of the restaurant’s patrons are non-vegetarian, which really goes to show that the demand is there, and not just for those of us who choose to eat vegan all the time.
Although Kevin is very busy with the day-to-day duties surrounding his quickly-growing restaurant chain, he was kind enough to take time to answer some questions for TheTravelingVegetarian.tv.
TTV: What are your goals for The Veggie Grill? Are you franchising?
KB: Our goal is to become the “Whole Foods” of the restaurant industry, which goes along with our mission statement: “Make it fun to eat wholesome.” We are putting off any decision regarding franchising at this time. Our intent is to continue to own & operate our restaurants for the time being.
TTV: Where do you see the business is five years? Ten?
KB: We are now positioned to become the first national brand serving wholesome (which we define as 100% plant-based) comfort food. We intend to grow our base from three to six locations over the next twelve months, and then from six to twelve over the following twelve months. At that juncture we will have the infrastructure in place to support an aggressive national roll-out.
TTV: Why is The Veggie Grill thriving when so many restaurants and other businesses are failing?
KB: We are meeting a need: Delicious food that people can feel good about eating, served by friendly & thoughtful people in an attractive & convenient setting.
TTV: What was the process in coming up with the current menu? Was it one chef? Several?
KB: After an exhaustive period of due diligence, which included sampling food from coast to coast, we found Ray White who has been working with plant-based recipes for 10+years. We then worked together with Ray to develop the menu that you see today. Our team is constantly striving to improve & innovate, so we add new, delicious items on an ongoing basis.
TTV: Is the menu the same at all locations?
KB: Yes it is.
TTV: What would you say is The Veggie Grill’s signature dish?
KB: That’s a difficult question, as some guests love the Santa Fe Crispy Chickin’, while others swear by The Stack. However, pretty much everyone is amazed by our Sweetheart Fries & carrot cake.
TTV: What’s your favorite thing on the menu?
KB: That’s like asking me which one of my children is my favorite! I’m enthralled with all our dishes!
TTV: What inspired you to change your eating habits?
KB: Our inspiration to adopt a 100% plant-based diet was based upon the overwhelming body of evidence that we discovered as we were researching the food business, which clearly demonstrates the benefits of a plant-based diet. We feel better, and our wives tell us that we look better too; who needs any more inspiration than that!
The Veggie Grill has won many well-deserved awards including “Restaurant of the Year” from VegNews Magazine and “Best New Restaurant” in any category from the OC Journal.
Delicious food that people can feel good about eating is working very well. I know this Traveling Veg is definitely looking forward to The Veggie Grill coming to Nashville. In the meantime, I can’t wait to get back to Southern California for a Bali Bliss with blackened tempeh and avocado and a side of those amazing sweet potato fries!